Friday, November 30, 2012

Perfectly Adelyn

When you deliver your baby and they hand her (I'm going to use she/her because I have girls, feel free to substitute he/him as you read this) and you count her ten little fingers and ten little toes and look into her beautiful eyes you can't help but think "she's perfect. I made a perfect little human being". Or at least I did.

Adelyn smiled "early" and laughed "early" and is always so happy. She couldn't get more perfect. Then, around 4 months, I thought, "my perfect little human isn't rolling over. That's okay, her sister didn't either. All kids develop differently. My girls are just content being on their tummies & backs". All was still right with the world. I did increase tummy time in hopes that she would figure it out. A month or 2 passed and I started to notice that not only was she not rolling over or sitting on her own, she wasn't putting any weight on her arms. It was then I started to worry about her muscle development. I talked to her doctor at her 6 month well baby check up. He didn't seem too concerned but did mention if she didn't start doing these things in the next month to call early on (Michigan's version of early intervention). I tripled tummy time, which was just fine for my perfectly happy baby. I helped her roll over. I rolled across the floor to show her. Lily rolled around the floor like a mad woman. She started rolling from back to belly in order to reach things. Although not intentionally rolling, at least it was progress. Then I bought her a mirror to look at herself while doing tummy time and *boom* she was pushing up, even just a little bit, on her arms. Then she was sitting on her own - not even tripod style. BINGO! We're getting somewhere and she'll be rolling and putting weight on her arms in no time. There will be no need for early intervention. There will be no need for the little worrying I was doing. My child is perfect. I told you so! 

But her 7 month birthday came & went and she remained stagnant. So I called 1-800-EarlyOn and gave them my information. They said it would be TWO WEEKS before someone would call me back to schedule Adelyn's evaluation. Two weeks is a long time! At first I was a little irritated at the situation. Then I thought, well, by the end of the 2 weeks she'll probably be rolling and I'll just tell them I don't need them. Easy Peasy. Two weeks is a good thing. Not a bad one. Two weeks passed and we still hadn't gotten any progression out of her. Early On called and scheduled her visit for 4 weeks later. I gave myself the same pep talk about the 4 week wait. It was just giving us more time to master her skills. 

In the meantime, my friends who have children the same age were posting videos of their kiddos rolling over, crawling, and even pulling up on things! While a part of me was so happy to see them going through those stages (especially the first time moms), another part of me was very sad inside. I have Lily and I take care of another preschooler and a toddler. So, in all honesty, I am in no hurry to have another mobile child in this house. But, seeing other kids do it made me feel bad that Adelyn wasn't. It made me feel like less of a parent. What was I doing wrong that my perfect child wasn't completing tasks that were "normal" for her age? Initially I tried to remind myself that Adelyn was early - by 3-5 weeks depending on how you looked at it. That could make a difference. But at 7 months old, I didn't think it would mean she was *so* far behind. 

The next 4 weeks didn't bring much in the way of progress and passed ever so slowly. Today was finally our evaluation. Initially we went into the eval room and I sat Adelyn down and the physical therapist started to explain the criteria. Twenty percent deficit would mean we would qualify for group play dates/classes. Forty percent would qualify us for 1 on 1 PT. But the therapist said based on her sitting ability she wasn't sure we'd meet either criteria. Then the eval began and I realized all the things she *doesn't* do. She doesn't bring her arms across her midline; meaning she doesn't reach her right arm to her left side or vice versa. She doesn't really play with her feet unless I've already lifted them for her (i.e. while playing with her or changing her diaper). They physically examined her and asked me a lot of questions. Does she say a lot of consonants? Other than not consistently. Does she mimic sounds or coughs? She will squawk if you squawk at her. Does she point? Use pincer (thumb & forefinger) grasp? Wait?! Where are you going with these questions? I brought her in because of her physical issues. Are you saying she's behind in other areas too? I felt my confidence sink. Could I be failing as a mother?

By the time the evaluation ended (almost 2 hours later) it was clear that my perfect child was behind in a lot of areas. Most significantly in her gross motor skills and muscle development. Her core and arm muscles are very weak. She's at a 3 month old level in those areas. Her communication skills are that of a 5 month old. Her emotional/social skills are at a 6 month old level. I'm not sure what that even means to be honest. Her social and emotional skills seem pretty "normal" to me. Her self help level is 8 months and her cognitive level is 9 months (she's a genius I tell you!). I wanted to cry. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Where did I go wrong with my perfect baby? I asked. I *had* to ask! "Is there something I could've done different? Done better. To help with her issues. To develop her muscles the way they should have." The answer was no. In fact they said the opposite. That I had done the best things I could've done for her. If she hadn't gotten all the tummy time she would be worse off. Then we discussed treatment. She'll be going to physical therapy as well as having occupational therapy and a "teacher" come out to work with her weekly.

I still left the appointment feeling down. But, in my normal fashion, I allowed myself to wallow in my own pity for only a moment. Then I thought to myself, this isn't serious. It's not like we were told she has a permanent disability or cancer. There are so many parents out there going through *so* much worse. This was just a stepping stone to get her where she needs to be. My perfect baby isn't any less perfect because she's behind (nor would she be any less perfect with a disability or illness). She's perfectly her. She's perfectly Adelyn and nothing will ever change that. 

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